Members at the District 8 Women's Network lunch at Noble Park Brigade in May, with the Hon. Gabrielle Williams (far left)
Despite women being underrepresented in emergency services, the District 8 Women’s Network is flourishing with many opportunities being offered.
Over the past six months, District 8 CFA women have held two networking lunches, celebrated International Women’s Day, visited the Essendon Airbase and taken part in women-only mental health first-aid and chainsaw courses. Some also had the opportunity to atend the South East Region Women’s Challenge Camp.
The South East Region Women’s Network aims to provide opportunities to develop women's skills and confidence in a safe environment that caters to their needs. It also creates a network where women can work together to help each other, on the fireground and at events, and extends to their personal lives. It is about equity in a male-dominated industry, stemming from an evidential need for this type of support, which saw the creation of the Women’s Network, now led by the South East Region Volunteer Sustainability Team.
“This network is something we are extremely proud of at CFA, as we support being a progressive emergency service, and deliver on being a great place to volunteer,” South East Region Volunteer Sustainability Team, Women’s Network Project Lead Olivia Duffey said.
“We are actively catering to the needs of our volunteers, and one of these ways is through this network. In District 8, we have provided a wide variety of development opportunities which has supported these emerging community leaders.
“This important work has also supported a spike engagement, participation and confidence within our female membership, which is extremely exciting to see. We hope to see this grow as the network flourishes.”
One of the most recent events was the bi-monthly networking lunch where members travel from across the district to visit different brigades and their stations. These days include skills development, tours, speakers and updates. But most importantly, they are a networking opportunity.
On 28 May, the group gathered at Noble Park Station, which saw a visit from the Honourable Gabrielle Williams, a Minister in the emergency services sector and advocate wforomen. Noble Park brigade was also able to showcase its success in diverse recruitment, which has included primarily female members and those from their culturally diverse community.
“Women are still underrepresented in emergency services. This needs to change. We are actively recruiting and supporting women who are interested in this field, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because our communities will be safer and better equipped to handle emergencies when we have a diverse team,” Noble Park Captain Matt Pond said.
“At Noble Park, I am proud to be supporting programs to specifically develop our female members with skills development such as driver training and emerging leaders programs, targeting future leadership positions.
“We were honoured to have Gabrielle Williams with us, who is a current minister in our emergency services sector, and until recently the Minister for Women. Her insight and the opportunity to connect with our members was beneficial to all.”
But that isn’t all for the District 8 Women’s Network, who will be hosting a basic skills maintenance day at VEMTC Bangholme in October, four more networking lunches, and a leadership program which is being led by volunteers after participating in the South East Region Women’s Challenge Camp – and all before the end of this year.
These women will also meet in July to discuss their current needs for the next financial year, which the Volunteer Sustainability Team will support. This is expected to see further training and skills development, particularly in the leadership space.
“I look forward to continuing being a part of programs delivered by the Volunteer Sustainability Team that support all of our volunteers, with the Women’s Network being one of these,” Miss Duffey said.
“These are the programs that are already showing results for our individual members and brigades, and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be equipped for success in CFA as we look towards the future of this organisation with our emerging leaders.”
- District 8 Women's Chainsaw Operator course in April
- District 8 Women's Networking lunch in Noble Park
- District 8 Women's Network International Women's Day celebration
- District 8 Women's Networking Lunch at Nar Nar Goon in March
- District 8 Women's Network Essendon Airbase Tour in February